how to: make reed diffusers using thrifted vases

Come mid-winter, I straight-up yearn for open-window weather. I love the sounds of my neighborhood, but more than anything, I crave fresh air. Since we have at least a couple months to go before it’s warm enough to crack the windows, I’ve been keeping things fresh at home with these easy-to-make reed diffusers. Crafted out of with Goodwill vases and few ingredients—including a few you probably already have on hand!—this project comes together in about 15 minutes, and costs a mere fraction of store-bought air fresheners.


  • 2 thrifted vases — I looked for vases with narrow necks that were no more than five inches tall
  • Mineral oil — available at your local pharmacy and/or hardware store
  • Vodka
  • Carrier oil — sweet almond, jojoba and safflower oils will all work great
  • Essential oils — single-note oils or blends are both great options
  • Wooden reeds — I found mine at Michael’s


1. Start by gathering up your supplies.
diffusers step 1
2. Measure ½ cup of mineral oil into a glass measuring spout.
3. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of vodka. It’s naturally going to separate, so give it a good whisk to ensure it’s emulsified.
diffusers step 3
4. Now it’s time to mix up your scents. To keep it simple, I used two of my favorite essential oil blends: Veriditas Botanicals’ Good Samaritan blend and Aura Cacia’s Creative Juice. The sky’s the limit when it comes to essential oil combos, so feel free to play around! As long as you’re stay around 20-30 drops per ¼-cup carrier oil, you should be in good shape.
diffusers step 4
5. Using a small funnel, pour the carrier-oil blend into a vase, followed by half the mineral oil-vodka mixture. Repeat with your second vase.
6. Insert a handful of the reeds into each vase, stirring the oil around. After a few hours pass, flip the sticks over, so the end that hasn’t been dipped gets a turn in the oil. For the most fragrant results, flip your sticks every few days. Depending on the size of your vases, these diffusers should stay fragrant for at least a month or two.
Are you a fan of homemade air fresheners? If you have a good method or recipe up your sleeve, please do let me know!
A version of this post first appeared on the Goodwill / Easter Seals Minnesota blog.

the beauty thrifter is in!

12446175255_804dd5ebdb_bSince today’s forecast calls for yet another dumping of snow, it seems appropriate to share this round up I put together for my friends at featuring a handful of my all-time favorite winter skin saviors. From a facial scrub that smells like fresh grapefruit (and works miracles on blah, dry skin), to a spray-and-go lotion that keeps scaly legs at bay, each of these products will keep you looking hot (even if the temps are sub-zero outside). If you have time, please do check it out!



Image c/o: Classic Film's Flickr.

how to: remove salt stains from boots

high plains thrifter // how to remove salt stains from boots

By the time mid-February rolls around, my relationship with winter hits a wall. From daily traffic battles on ice-slicked highways to cutting winds that spring tears to my eyes to sky-high heating bills, I’m just so over it all. Including, if not especially, my entire winter wardrobe. But since there are at least a few more weeks* of boot- (and wool-) wearing weather ahead, I must resolve to get through the tail-end of winter as stylishly as possible. First up on my to-do list? Cleaning my trusty, wear-with-everything, thrifted cowboy boots, which were, up until yesterday, marred with salty stains.

salt stain close-upIn need of some tips on how to give salt stains the slip, I turned to Google, and found posts galore on removing salt from both suede and leather boots. I mashed up advice from two posts (this one from the Free People blog and this one from 11 and Chic), and am stoked on the results. Here’s how I did it!

First up, I gathered up the necessary supplies, all of which I had on hand. (Which made me feel worse about not tackling this task last winter!)

high plains thrifter // salt stain removal suppliesI started off by giving my boots an all-over brushing, removing any gritty bits of salt and sand wedged in the stitching or soles. (The tutorials I read called for a shoe brush, but a spare nail brush I had worked just fine.)

high plains thrifter // how to remove salt stainsIn a small pitcher, I mixed a 1/4 cup of vinegar with a 1/4 cup of water. Dampening the rag with the vinegar mixture, I dabbed over all the areas stained by the salt, hitting the especially heavy stains a few times, just to make sure they were completely covered.

high plains thrifter // how to remove salt stainsWhen I finished that step, they looked like this. And when I left them to dry, I felt a little more than a little skeptical that this was going to work.

high plains thrifter // drying bootsAfter running a few errands, I came back to find dry boots. Using another clean rag, I buffed them up, using a quarter-sized dollop of leather conditioner at a time. And the results? Fabulous! Yes, my poor boots still bear a few lingering signs of water damage, but given their age and the multiple winters’ worth of abuse they’ve sustained, I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out!

finished boots2

Tammy Crackers is curious about where the salt stains went.

high plains thrifter // finished bootsDo you have any tricks for keeping your winter boots looking better? If so, let me know!



*please let it be weeks versus months!

holiday how-to: apple-cinnamon infused jameson

Hi there, and happy Monday!

You can disagree all you want, but in my opinion, homemade Christmas presents are the most fun, both to give and receive. Which explains why this recipe for infused whiskey caught my eye when I spotted it a few months back. Who wouldn’t love to get a wee bit of spicy whiskey in the middle of a dead-cold Minnesota winter? I sure as heck would! Anyway, with Thanksgiving coming up, I figured this past weekend was probably a good time to get a’going on making this, especially since it takes a couple of weeks to infuse.


5 one liter bottles of Jameson Irish Whiskey

3-6 cinnamon sticks

6 Granny Smith apples

6 apples of another variety (Braeburn, McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Jonagold)

A large glass or ceramic container(s) for storing


1. Pour bottles of Jameson into a container.

2. Add cinnamon sticks and sliced apples. Cover.

3. Infuse for 12-18 days depending on exposure to heat/light.

4. After infusing, strain and pour back into original bottle or into gift-able bottles or jars.

To make an apple-y hot toddy, mix 1-2 shots of the infused Jameson and hot apple cider in a mug. So stinking good!

This recipe was created by A.J. Crotty, manager of Charlie’s Irish Pub in Stillwater, Minnesota and will appear in the winter 2011 issue of Minnesota Meetings + Events magazine.

I hope your Monday’s are off to lovely starts, my dears!